Avalanche Pushes Sharks to the Edge
By Aaron J. Lopez
DENVER – Living dangerously finally caught up with the San Jose Sharks.
Theo Fleury had two goals and an assist Saturday night as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Sharks 6-2 to take a one-game lead in their Western Conference playoff series.
Claude Lemieux added a goal and three assists and Peter Forsberg scored short-handed to ignite Colorado, which leads the best-of-7 series 3-2. Game 6 is Monday night in San Jose.
The Sharks accomplished what they wanted in Denver – forcing the series back to California – but gave themselves little chance Saturday, allowing a short-handed goal, two power-play goals and committing costly turnovers.
San Jose coach Darryl Sutter subjected himself to the critics by starting Steve Shields in place of goaltender Mike Vernon, who had played well through the first four games.
Shields, 9-0-2 in his last 11 regular-season starts, finished with 29 saves. Even Vernon would have been hard-pressed to stop at least two Colorado goals, and he couldn't control Patrick Roy's stellar play at the other end.
Roy, who was pulled after giving up six goals 24 hours earlier, stopped 31 shots for his 102nd career playoff victory. He lost his shutout on Patrick Marleau's power-play goal 5:34 into the third period and gave up another score on a 5-on-3 in the closing minutes.
Marleau's goal pulled San Jose to 5-1, but Fleury answered with his second goal of the game less than four minutes later to thwart any chance of a comeback.
The second period started inauspiciously for the Avalanche as they blew a two-minute, 5-on-3 advantage for the second straight night. Despite the missed opportunity, Colorado got a spark when Fleury scored his first goal of the series to give the Avalanche a 2-0 lead at 11:15.
The goals came easily after that as Fleury stole the puck from Mike Rathje at the blue line and found Joe Sakic for a one-timer past Shields at 12:55.
Lemieux beat Shields on a slap shot from the right circle 49 seconds later, and Adam Deadmarsh capped the second-period flurry when he deflected in Aaron Miller's long slap shot just before the horn sounded.
Colorado, which surrendered two short-handed goals Friday night, came back with one of its own in the first period as Forsberg beat Rathje to a loose puck and faked out Shields for an easy breakaway score and a 1-0 lead at 4:31.
© Copyright 1999 The Associated Press